AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference <br>and<br>AIAA Unmanned...

Unlimited Conference 6 - 9 April 2009, Seattle, Washington

AIAA 2009-1857

Wild Land Fire Fighting using Multiple Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles
Manish Kumar1 and Kelly Cohen2

College of Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio,45221

This paper presents a strategy for cooperative control of a number of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) engaged in extinguishing a forest fire. In this paper, a relatively simple scenario is which makes the following assumptions: information regarding the location of fire and position of all UAVs is made available to each UAV; and each UAV is equipped with unlimited fire suppressant fluid which extinguishes fire in a circle of specified area directly beneath it. This paper formulates the problem of fire fighting based upon optimization of a utility function, develops a decentralized control method to combat fire using cooperative UAVs, and analyzes the system for its stability and its ability to extinguish fire. The proposed strategy has been verified with the help of extensive simulations. Although the simplifying assumptions have been made, this preliminary study presents a framework for path planning and cooperative control of multiple UAVs engaged in actively controlling forest fire. Future research would involve incorporating a more sophisticated benchmark problem in which the area of interest will include land having different utilities and with several simultaneous fire hot-spots and heterogeneous fire conditions. I. Introduction n recent years, the U.S. has been on the receiving end of several devastating forest fires, and the damage done in terms of acres burnt has risen dramatically. Conventional fire-fighting methods are clearly inadequate and there is need for a paradigm shift in the combating methodology. Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), working together with manned fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, offer the possibility of realizing new and affordable technology which can make a difference in forest fire surveillance, monitoring, and control. UAVs offer several advantages: they can be flown in dangerous situations; they can fly for longer duration and dull missions enabling long-term data gathering and situational awareness; they can fly safely in bad weather conditions at higher altitudes; and they can be equipped with sensors such as visual and/or infra-red imaging, and active fire-suppressants for completely autonomous operations. The UAVs can conduct autonomous flights to monitor forests, and upon hot spot or fire detection, they can provide location and monitor status. During fire fighting operations, manned aircraft/UAV in conjunction with ground based resources can be used to suppress/control the fire and provide evacuation routes for people and equipment. While satellites such as NASA’s EO-1 and UAVs such as the Global Hawk and the Predator/Ikhana have been utilized in the recent fires, a highly probable future scenario would incorporate a hierarchy of several networked heterogeneous manned/unmanned aircrafts and ground based assets cooperating intelligently. This paper explores a simplified scenario in which wild land fire is fought with the help of autonomous UAVs. The UAVs are equipped with fire suppressant fluid that extinguishes fire in a circle of specified area directly beneath it. The UAVs can communicate with each other, and location of fire is made available to each UAV. The objective the system of multiple UAVs is to use the available information to suppress the fire in a co-operative manner. During the past few years, a good deal of research has been carried out in the field of control and coordination of multiple mobile agents. Advances in communication, increased computational capacity, miniaturization techniques, and novel control strategies have facilitated the use of a large number of
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Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, P.O. Box 210072, and AIAA Member Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, P.O. Box 210070, and AIAA Associate Fellow 1 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Copyright © 2009 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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